As protests continue over the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is honoring the man he shot and killed: Anthony Lamar Smith.
The Board’s actions on Friday came as St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is embracing the Ferguson Commission report, a collection of dozens of policy recommendations that was laid out after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, as the way forward.
The Board unanimously approved the resolution Friday that “paused to remember the memory” of Smith. Stockley and his partner chased the 24-year-old Smith in 2011 after a suspected drug deal in the Walnut Park West neighborhood. After the chase ended, Stockley, who is white, shot Smith, who was black, five times through the driver’s side window. A judge found Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder last Friday.
“In the back of our minds and the back of our hearts, we all knew what the verdict was going to be,” said Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, who sponsored the resolution. “But due to our optimistic spirit and due to our belief that black lives actually do matter, we were clinging onto the inclination that Jason Stockley would be guilty. However, that was not the case.”
Smith’s parents, Annie Smith and Darvell Smith Sr., were on aldermanic dais to receive the resolution. Krewson took a moment to hug Annie Smith after they were handed the resolution.
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said Smith’s death is compelling elected officials to re-examine how police treat African-Americans.
“I know that he’s passed his way,” Reed said. “But he’s ushered in some change in St. Louis and across this nation.”
In brief remarks, Darvell Smith thanked the board for the resolution – and thanked St. Louis officials for considering equipping police officers with body cameras.
Krewson sees Ferguson Commission as the "path forward"
Meanwhile, Krewson released a statement declaring that the 2015 Ferguson Commission report is the city’s guide when it comes to policy change.
Then-Gov. Jay Nixon established the Ferguson Commission after Brown’s shooting death in 2014. It ultimately produced dozens of policy recommendations aimed at overhauling law enforcement, education, public health and economic development.
Many of the recommendations haven’t been implemented yet – especially ones that require action from the Missouri General Assembly. Krewson said in a statement she supported independent investigations for police-involved killings, as well as “strengthening” the city’s civilian oversight board. Some, including Alderman Terry Kennedy, D-18th Ward, say they support giving the oversight board subpoena power, which would likely require a citywide vote.
“I know I don’t have decision-making power across all those things, but I am committed to adding my political will to the push to find the right way to get those things done,” Krewson said in a statement. “This is by no means a complete list.”
The Missouri General Assembly would have to approve laws requiring independent investigations. While that idea had some bipartisan support in 2015, it faced opposition from elected officials like St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Since Krewson does oversee the St. Louis Police Department, she could require policy changes within the department.
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